IRVINE, Calif. — September new-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to rise 0.7% from a year ago to 1.44 million units, resulting in an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.5 million, according to Kelley Blue Book.
The firm noted that most consumers are likely to shop used. However, with used prices trending upward recently, some used buyers may opt to purchase new. Additionally, many automakers are offering hurricane relief incentives of up to $1,000. In these areas, car segments are likely to be shopped more, as these vehicles are the most affordable and in plentiful supply. Nationally, demand is still shifting steadily toward SUVs.
“September will be another opportunity for the first sales increase of the year, as we project slight growth for the industry,” said Kelley Blue Book analyst Tim Fleming. “While major hurricanes devastated parts of Texas and Florida in the past month, this is driving replacement demand for those drivers with vehicles destroyed. This demand has already started in some areas, but will continue into October and potentially November, as vehicle insurance payouts are received.”
At 1.44 million, however, sales would be down 2.6% from August. But at 17.5 million, the SAAR would be up from August’s 16 million-unit reading.
Additionally, retail sales are expected to account for 85.5% of volume in September, up from 85.4% in September 2016.
And after a record sales year in 2016 and seven consecutive annual increases, Kelley Blue Book’s forecast for 2017 calls for sales in the range of 16.8 million and 17.3 million units, a 1% to 4% decrease from last year.
By brand, Kelley Blue Book anticipates another month of mixed new-car sales results fro manufacturers. Toyota, for instance, could have the best month of all automakers with projected growth of 9.5%, which would be the manufacturer’s most significant year-over-year increase since December 2015.
“Sales of the RAV4 crossover are surging, as it has become the top-selling model outside of pickup trucks, and this month looks strong for the vehicle as well,” the firm noted in its report. “Meanwhile, the redesigned Camry is growing in availability and could offer a nice sales lift for Toyota.”
Hyundai-Kia, however, is possible looking at severe declines in sales and losing one point of market share. “The automakers’ SUVs are posting sales gains, including the Hyundai Tucson. But Hyundai-Kia’s lineup still leans heavily on cars, which are struggling,” the firm noted. “Some nameplates like the Kia Soul and Forte could have a good month, but Kelley Blue Book expects the brands’ cars could fall by 15% overall.
“Half of these sales declines are attributed to fleet and rental reductions versus last year.”
Compact SUVs are still the No. 1 segment and are expected to gain market share in September 2017. Aside from the Toyota RAV4, which the firm believes could top 40,000 sales for the third consecutive month, several redesigned products are helping to drive segment growth, including the Chevrolet Equinox, Subaru Crosstrek, and GMC Terrain — all of which could see sales increases upwards of 40%, according to Kelley Blue Book.
“Year to date, sales in the compact SUV segment are up just 2%, but this represents significant volume given the annual sales total could reach three million units,” the firm noted.
Mid-size SUVs are another category on the rise, with growing headlined by the redesigned Chevrolet Traverse and the all-new Volkswagen Atlas. A 5% increase in sales is expected for this segment in September, Kelley Blue Book predicts.